Cambridge University Press Unblocks Censored Articles in China


It complied with a request to block more than 300 articles-which focus on topics such as the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution, and ethnic tensions in Xinjiang and Tibet-from the China studies journal, The China Quarterly.

Hans van de Ven, a scholar of modern Chinese history at Cambridge University, said the reversal was "absolutely the right decision". The block led to protests, an online petition and calls for boycotting the university from academics in the West and other countries, including India.

"This decision was taken as a temporary measure pending discussion with the academic leadership of the University of Cambridge, and pending a scheduled meeting with the Chinese importer in Beijing. It is disturbing to academics and universities worldwide that China is attempting to export its censorship on topics that do not fit its preferred narrative".

Christopher Balding, associate professor of economics at Peking University, said that for too long universities have assumed that China would gradually embrace academic freedom as a result of interaction with the West, but it is evident that this approach is not working.

The British publisher of an academic journal has reversed a decision to take down hundreds of articles from its Chinese website.

Academics welcomed the rebuff to Beijing by the university, but reports from China suggested the decision to reinstate the block content has not been circulated within the country.

"We applaud the move from Cambridge University Press to restore the censored articles".

The Association for Asian Studies said in a statement on Monday that CUP had received a request from China's General Administration of Press and Publications to omit approximately 100 articles from the Journal of Asian Studies (JAS).

"Access to published materials of the highest quality is a core component of scholarly research", Pringle wrote in a post on Twitter announcing the decision.

Kolman said CUP deserved "every credit" for restoring full access to the journal - but, he added, "we wait to see what consequences the publisher will face".

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying declined to comment on the request when asked on Monday, before the publisher's decision to repost the material, referring questions to the "relevant department".

The furore comes against a tightening of controls by Chinese President Xi Jinping's government over a wide range of groups that could feed opposition to the ruling Communist Party, including lawyers, non-governmental organisations and churches. This attempt to hide content that contradicts the Chinese Communist Party's preferred narrative was a deplorable attack on academic freedom and the freedom to publish.

"Most of the young generations in China don't know about June 4, " Prof Chen said.

"If they think China's Internet market is so important that they can't miss out, they need to respect Chinese law and adapt to the Chinese way".